17 January 2010

ScienceOnline 2010: The Beginning of the End

Today is the last day of ScienceOnline 2010. The conference experience has been one akin to a reunion---so many people I feel like I have "known" for a long time from their blogs and Twitter feeds, and this was our chance to finally meet in person.

I enjoyed the sessions I attended, as well as those I facilitated. The Data Visualization session I moderated was particularly interesting to me. I had adapted my material for the "unconference" format and also for a different audience. I almost exclusively present to educators these days. Scientists? Not so much. But I liked the connections that they made with the material and the discussions they had about the changes they see happening in the sciences. I expect that these conversations continue in one form or another, as DataViz seems to be of increasing interest.

One of the things I have appreciated the most at this conference is the diversity of connections to science. There are science librarians; artists who paint or photograph scientific concepts; online and print journalists, bloggers, authors, and editors; students and educators from public and private institutions; science industry reps; physicians; museum, zoo, and aquarium staff; and many others. These various areas of expertise lend so much to the conversation. Journalists are contributing to the discussions of ethics in science reporting while librarians give us different ways to document and catalog work. Teachers can help researchers understand what is needed for their students to participate in citizen science projects. Those institutions which are already using social media can help the rest of us understand what is and isn't working. I don't know what this would look like in the context of an educational conference, but we need to find a way to do this.

In a few hours, I will board a plane bound for the west coast, headed back to my normal quiet life. I am already anticipating returning here for ScienceOnline 2011.

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